6 Architecture Competitions For High School Students To Apply

Do you have a love for design and architecture? High school students, are you interested in showcasing your abilities and creativity? You need to go no farther than high school student architecture competitions! Participating in competitions of interest can be at the top of one’s bucket list, as these contests provide young, aspiring architects a chance to demonstrate their abilities and compete against one another. 

These competitions provide a singular chance to investigate diverse architectural styles and approaches while also encouraging cooperation, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. They do this using a variety of challenges and themes. Prepare to let your creativity run wild and take the first step towards a promising future in architecture by doing so.

Building Dreams, Shaping Futures: Architecture competitions for high school visionaries

1. American Institute of Architecture Students Competitions:

The AIA competition invites high school students to design a community center that reflects the needs and goals of their local community. It is accessible to high school students throughout the United States. Students get the chance to collaborate with experienced architects and gain knowledge of the whole design process through the competition.

There are different competitions that high school students with a passion for architecture and design can participate in. From sharing models that you’ve worked on in your class to sharing your portfolios, this series of competitions have got everything covered. Check out the criteria, eligibility, and process of entering a competition, and register yourself for the one that perfectly aligns with your skills.

2. Annual AFSF High School Design Competition:

The architectural foundation of San Francisco is a non-profit educational organization that mentors students in engineering, architecture, construction, and the design process.  The AFSF design competition lets students practice design skills, creativity, spatial, and analytical thinking skills. It is open to all high school students throughout the world.

By participating in this competition, participants learn to conceptualize the design and present their solutions for the same in the form of drawings, models, and writing. Every year, there is a different theme and challenge for the participants. There is no entry fee and pre-registration is required.

3. Architecture at Zero Competition:

It is a design competition focused on decarbonization, equity, and resilience. It is open to students and professionals worldwide. Every year there are different challenges related to the field of architecture, design, engineering, and planning set up for participants to compete. The 2023 competition challenge is to design an agriculture center, connecting the history of California’s first Black town, to its present aspiration to become a destination for sustainable agriculture and Black history.

In this, the participants need to plan out the design by focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy, lower carbon emissions, and energy storage. The technical review panel will evaluate the quality of the design, resolution of the idea, innovation, thoughtfulness, and technique.

4. The Home Competition:

This competition is all about the concept of designing homes. Equipping students in domestic architecture, this competition encourages students to consider all the important factors that may impact home design in the future such as global population shift, the proximity of major cities to coastlines, new materials, and building techniques, and the rise of tiny homes, smart houses and Airbnb.

Participants can present any type of home design but it should clearly define how residents will interact with the living space that they’ve proposed through graphic representation, text, or both. Participants can submit projects that were done in school as long as they meet the requirements of the competition. The competition is open to all designers irrespective of age, location, and experience.

5. Annual Bridge Building Competition:

If you’re a high school student or a teacher interested in mathematics, physics, research, and engineering, then this competition is for you. This competition gives an idea about what it is to be an engineer or a designer. In this competition, participants need to design, construct, and test the most efficient bridge based on given specifications. 

In order to simplify the model bridge design process, the number of loading positions is reduced, but still, participants need to ensure that the bridge must be designed to accept a load at any of the specified positions. The winner of the International Contest will receive a 1/2 tuition scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology.

6. 120 Hours Competition:

This competition is created for and by architecture students. It has become one of the world’s largest and most prestigious student-driven architecture competitions. In this participants are given 120 hours to solve and work on the complex and socially relevant assignment. Students from all over the world are eligible to participate in this competition.

There is no entry fee required to enter this competition. Being a non-profit and voluntary basis competition, it does not involve any school administration. This competition is perfect to have your first encounter with architectural competition in the future.

How architecture competitions can help develop critical skills & explore future opportunities

For high school students, participation in architecture contests may be a worthwhile and satisfying experience that gives them a chance to hone their abilities, learn more about the industry, and be ready for future academic and professional prospects. High school students may gain a lot by competing in architecture contests, including:

  1. Developing critical thinking and problem-solving abilities: Students are required to think critically and creatively to solve complicated design challenges as part of architecture competitions, which can aid in the development of vital skills that can be used in a variety of contexts.
  2. Exposure to the field of architecture and design: Students have the chance to learn about the numerous facets of architecture and design, including sustainable design, community participation, and history and culture, through these contests. Their decision to pursue a career in the area may be influenced by this experience.
  3. Creating a portfolio: Students who participate in architecture contests have the chance to produce and present their work in a formal context, which may be an important addition to their portfolios when they apply to colleges or pursue careers in the industry.
  4. Professional networking: Many architecture contests provide students the chance to work with qualified architects and designers, who may offer advice and mentorship as well as beneficial networking possibilities for pursuing future academic and professional goals. These networks can also help you in getting scholarships
  5. Developing cooperation and group abilities: Many architecture contests encourage students to work in teams, which can aid in the development of these skills, which are crucial in a variety of industries. 


In conclusion, high school students have access to a variety of architecture contests that provide opportunities to learn about sustainable design principles, community participation, and problem-solving abilities. Participating in these competitions can open one’s way to many architecture scholarships too. These contests provide students the chance to collaborate with experienced architects and designers, explore novel concepts, and hone their creative and critical thinking abilities.

There is probably a competition out there that will meet students’ interests and skill sets, whether they are interested in sustainable design, game creation, or researching the history and culture of their area. High school students can prepare for future academic and professional options by entering these events and gaining vital experience and exposure to the world of architecture and design.

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